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Donnie Brasco

Al Pacino , Johnny Depp , Mike Newell    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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Based on a memoir by former undercover cop Joe Pistone (whose daring and unprecedented infiltration of the New York Mob scene earned him a place in the federal witness protection program), Donnie Brasco is like a de-romanticized, de-mythologized version of The Godfather. It offers an uncommonly detailed, privileged glimpse inside the world of organized crime from the perspective of the little guys at the bottom of Mafia hierarchy rather than from the kingpins at the top. Donnie Brasco is not only one of the great modern-day gangster movies to put in the company of The Godfather films and GoodFellas, but it is also one of the great undercover police movies--arguably surpassing Serpico and Prince of the City in richness of character, detail, and moral complexity. Donnie (Johnny Depp, a splendid actor) is practically adopted by Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), a gregarious, low-level "made" man who grows to love his young protégé like a son. (Pacino really sinks into this guy's skin and polyester slacks, and creates his freshest, most fully realized character since his 1970s heyday.) As Donnie acclimates himself to Lefty's world, he distances himself from his wife (a terrific Anne Heche) and family for their own protection. Almost imperceptibly his sense of identity slips away from him. Questioning his own confused loyalties, unable to trust anybody else because he himself is an imposter, Donnie loses his way in a murky and treacherous no-man's land. The film is directed by Mike Newell, who also headed up Four Weddings and a Funeral and the gritty, true crime melodrama Dance with a Stranger. --Jim Emerson

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally we know what 'fuggedaboudit' means June 23 2004
Donnie Brasco is based on a true story but it is still gripping. Donnie Brasco is the alias of Joe Pistone, an undercover agent. He joins the mob as a help of Lefty played by Al Pacino. Pacino again plays a great mobster. This time as just a spoke, and sometimes not very smart.
But DB gets so involved that he does not know on which side he is, that is what loyalty does to him. Even his marriage is almost falling apart.
Depp and Pacino are of course brilliant as ever and this is another great maffia movie like Goodfellas are the Godfather.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DEPP'S OPUS May 29 2004
How many actors say their prayers for a role like this? DONNIE BRASCO is Johnny Depp's bright light moment...when you upstage Pacino, in yet another of his own moments of greatness, you tend to wonder what's next. This is where Depp shed his "youth star" label and became an actor. The real crime here is that Depp and Pacino were hijacked at Oscar time (the film was released early in 1997). Mike Newell's direction again makes the point that Eurpoean's have a fresh view of American film and it's most stalwart genres. DONNIE BRASCO could serve as an FBI training film and why protocol should dictate that married men are forbidden to undertake deep cover assignments. The only flaw I caught was the reference to John Wayne's death: The Duke died June, 1979 and the film shows 6 inches of snow in New Jersey. Fatal, forget-about-it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donnie Brasco: Based On A True Story... May 11 2004
A good actor is one who we forget is on the screen seeing the character rather than the performer. Johnny Depp seems to achieve this often in his career and once again we are treated to an outstanding performance in Donnie Brasco. Depp plays FBI Agent Joe Pistone who goes undercover to infiltrate a New York Mafia family. Hollywood has been there done that with this subject matter many times over but this film has a feel that is different than most of those over the top productions. Joe Pistone becomes his alter ego Donnie Brasco, blurring the line between his job and reality.
This is an intricate character study, not a film full of flying bullets and cheesy bravado. Depp and Al Pacino both give Oscar worthy efforts as you see the fondness develop between their characters over the course of the story making the inevitable ending that much tougher for Pistone to deal with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Johnny Depp April 7 2004
Absoluetly worth seeing and owning. Depp and Pacino are fantastic in this true story of Joseph D. Pistone, special agent for the FBI.
It is a chilling and moving performance. Children should not see this movie. The language and violance reflect the true lives of the NY mob.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doonie Brasco March 25 2004
By Tad
Donnie Brasco is a modern classic. The script is realistic, the direction is focused and the sets are atmospheric. Is Donnie Brasco a good movie, Fuhget about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't believe I overlooked this until now Feb. 10 2013
By Jesse
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a Johnny Depp movie that people don't really think of when they say "he's my favorite actor!", but this is the kind of movie that should make people say that. It's real like Goodfellas, but has that Godfather charm to it, and keeps you on edge even though you know there's only one way for it to end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By falcon
now this,is a good movie.It is based on the Book co written by Joseph.D
Pistone and Richard Woodley,chronicling undercover FBI agent Pistone
and his life as "Donnie Brasco".Brasco/Pistone infiltrates the New York
mafia,and befriends "Lefty Ruggiero",(Al Pacino)becoming close to him
in time.Donnie collects information for the FBI,and over time his mob
persona begins to assert itself.as a result,his family life falls apart
and Donnie faces a moral dilemma,which i won't go into here.Johhny Depp plays
Brasco/Pistone and delivers a very compelling performance.Pacino plays
"Lefty" and is equally believable.this is the 2nd gangster movie i have
seen,(Casino being the first,and lesser of the 2)and i must say,i am
impressed.Anne Heche plays Maggie Pistone and does very well as the
wife who sees her husband less often than the mobsters.her role is not
that large,but is important to the movie.others in the film include
James woods, Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, and the great(but very
underrated) actress Gretchen Mol has a small role. all deliver
excellent performances.but it is Depp's performance as Brasco that
anchors this movie.his performance is what sells the story. "Donnie
Brasco" gets a strong 4.5/5
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie June 10 2004
By jc
Al Pacino learns what its like to be Fredo Corleone in this movie..being stepped on, stepped over, getting no respect, and finally getting killed by people he trusted...he plays a loser trying keep his head above water with great conviction. Johnny Depp holds his own on the screen and gives another great performance as well..
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